Ted Shulman: When using open source makes you an enemy of the state

#OSE Open Source Everything, Commerce, Corruption, Government
Ted Schulman
Ted Schulman

When using open source makes you an enemy of the state

The US copyright lobby has long argued against open source software – now Indonesia’s in the firing line for encouraging the idea in government departments

Bobbie Johnson

The Guardian, 23 February 2010

It’s only Tuesday and already it’s been an interesting week for the world of digital rights. Not only did the British government changed the wording around its controversial ‘three strikes’ proposals, but the secretive anti-counterfeiting treaty, Acta, was back in the headlines. Meanwhile, a US judge is still deliberating over the Google book settlement.

As if all that wasn’t enough, here’s another brick to add to the teetering tower of news, courtesy of Andres Guadamuz, a lecturer in law at the University of Edinburgh.

Guadamuz has done some digging and discovered that an influential lobby group is asking the US government to basically consider open source as the equivalent of piracy – or even worse.

What?

It turns out that the International Intellectual Property Alliance, an umbrella group for organisations including the MPAA and RIAA, has requested with the US Trade Representative to consider countries like Indonesia, Brazil and India for its “Special 301 watchlist” because they use open source software.

What’s Special 301? It’s a report that examines the “adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights” around the planet – effectively the list of countries that the US government considers enemies of capitalism. It often gets wheeled out as a form of trading pressure – often around pharmaceuticals and counterfeited goods – to try and force governments to change their behaviours.

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